Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is set to embark on his postponed state-wide solo ‘yatra’ on a ‘rath’, said to be among the most hi-tech campaign vehicles ever used in India.
The ‘yatra’, called ‘Vikas Se Vijay Ki Ore (from development to victory)’, will be on a 10-wheel Mercedes bus equipped with top-of-the-line gadgets and amenities. “It is bigger and better than Shah Rukh Khan’s vanity van,” said an Akhilesh supporter.
Few have seen the ‘Vijay Rath’, which has been parked on the premises of the CM’s residence for more than a month. Akhilesh had announced the launch of his ‘yatra’ on October 3, but called it off in the thick of the Yadav family feud.
Now, Akhilesh has said instead of focusing on infighting, he will concentrate on the campaign. The ‘yatra’ will start from La Martiniere School ground, in front of his official residence, on November 3. On the first day, the ‘yatra’ will cover Lucknow, Unnao and Kanpur.
According to the CM’s camp, the ‘yatra’ will send across the message that work speaks for itself. The CM’s camp did not say it directly, but indicated the campaign would reposition Akhilesh as the best choice to lead the state again.
The ‘Vijay Rath’ is an upgrade from four-wheel buses and trucks used earlier. The cost of the ‘rath’ is not known, but a source estimated it to be “not less than Rs 50 lakh, if not Rs 1 crore”.
This is the first time Akhilesh will use a brand new ‘rath’. The ‘Kranti Rath’ he used in 2012 was inherited from his father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Akhilesh had covered the length and breadth of the state alone in 2012 too. While all senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders had shared the dais on the campaign trail, Akhilesh did not participate in those rallies. He campaigned on his own with the support of the youth wing.
It is the SP’s youth brigade that is again backing Akhilesh, determined to make the yatra a success to see him back as CM in 2017. They also want him back as the party state president, the post currently held by his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav.
The CM’s camp is also gearing up for the party’s silver jubilee celebrations, starting November 5.
“The route of the ‘yatra’ is yet to be finalised. It will be done in the next two or three days,” said cabinet minister Rajendra Chaudhary. “As silver jubilee celebrations of the party will start from November 5, the ‘yatra’ has to return for the celebrations.”
The ‘yatra’ would resume after the silver jubilee celebrations, he added.
With inputs from Pawan Dixit